The Vikings were two-point road favorites when they lost 41-0 to the New York Giants on Jan. 14, 2001. This is the first no-contest that comes to mind when citing the Vikings' most humiliating on-field moments in 61 seasons of existence.
A share of that comes from star receiver Randy Moss giving the game a title that will live as long as there is a Minnesota NFL franchise: "41-doughnut."
That game was also the Waterloo moment for coach Dennis Green, who, after eight playoff appearances in nine seasons, was fired with one game left in his 10th.
That was the 5-11 disaster of 2001, that led to four years for Mike Tice (one playoff win), 4½ years for Brad Childress (one playoff win), 3½ years for Les Frazier (no playoff wins) and eight years for Mike Zimmer (two playoff wins).
Zimmer's tenure stands as the third longest for Vikings coaches, behind Bud Grant's 18 seasons and Green's decade. The likelihood is strong that Sunday's game with Chicago will be Zimmer's last.
There is a mask mandate in effect for Sunday, but if this is a normal Vikings gathering, a large share of the patrons will be able to get around that by invoking the "no mask required when drinking" option.
Even with the alcohol intake of the disgruntled, what Zimmer deserves to receive from the customers attending this meaningless affair would be restrained applause and not "Fire Zim" chants.
He was above average in his duties, but also ranking at the top of the Vikings' nine coaches for loyalty received from ownership. That's based on the fact Zim survived four seasons — with only one good one — after his Waterloo moment:
Eagles 38, Vikings 7, in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 21, 2018, in Philadelphia.
Considering the quality of the team, and the amazing emotional high on which Zim's outfit should have entered that game, the abomination in Philly at least equals 41-doughnut for greatest Vikings on-field humiliation.
The NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, which by coincidence was when Grant's durable nucleus completed its trip to the other side of the hill and the Purple faded.
There were only two Vikings teams to achieve 13 victories in the four-plus decades that followed: 15-1 in 1998 and 13-3 in 2017.
The '98 Vikings did it with historic offense. Their loss in the NFC title game to Atlanta was incomprehensible heartbreak for Purple fandom.
The '17 Vikings did it with the NFL's No. 1-rated defense. Their loss in the NFC title game to Philadelphia was an incomprehensible no-show from big-time athletes.
One week earlier, Case Keenum, enjoying his Mark Rypien-like, magical season as a pro quarterback, and Stefon Diggs, fifth-rounder for the ages, had combined for the "Minneapolis Miracle" to beat the Saints 29-24 on a playoff game's last play.
As delirious momentum goes in Minnesota, this was Kirby Puckett homering off Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.
Keenum-to-Diggs made the Vikings the first-ever team to reach a conference championship game that also was to have the Super Bowl played in its home stadium.
Can't emphasize that enough:
The Vikings went to Philadelphia as three-point favorites, and as the first team that could win and then play at home in 52 Super Bowls.
The Vikings defenders had given up 15.8 points per game during the season. They gave up 31 (with seven more on an interception) in Philly. They had given up 276 yards a game, and gave up 456 in Philly. They had held opponents to 25.2% on third-down conversions, and allowed 10-for-14 on third downs in Philly.
Terrance Newman, the veteran Vikings cornerback, was refreshingly and painfully honest in his postgame assessment:
"Everything they did gave us trouble. Let's be honest. They had some runs. They had some throws. Everything they did gave us fits …
"I'm not going to tell you, 'Hey, it was this or it was that.' They did everything."
And how did it happen when the reward would be a Vikings Super Bowl then absent for 41 years, and a chance to play … at home?
"I'd have to look at the film to see, but it was kind of like we had no energy," Newman said. "… It was like they wanted it more."
Like the Anglo-allies and the Prussians at Waterloo. There's no film to check, but reports were they wanted it more than the French.
That was the end for Napoleon's rule.
Zim got four more years after he was humbled in his decisive battle. He should feel no umbrage over his coaching fate that follows Season 8's finale.
Let's be honest again: Doug Pederson coached him into submission that January Sunday, and then upset the Patriots in our hometown Super Bowl shootout, and he only got three more seasons with the Eagles.